Private Ormond Bobo and the 7th Infantry at Vancouver Barracks
Ormond Bobo was born on August 5, 1913, in Fayette County, Alabama. Growing up in a rural environment, Bobo and his siblings lived and worked on their family's farm. In 1936, at the age of 22, he enlisted in the U.S. Army and was assigned as a private to the 7th Infantry Regiment, Company K.
Bobo was initially stationed at Vancouver Barracks. The collection contains a letter he wrote to his brother in Alabama, dated May 23, 1936, describing Bobo's first impressions of the area and the difference in climate from the Southeastern United States:
In the same letter, Bobo marvels over the train journey he had taken to get to the West Coast, and writes of seeing year-round snow on Mount Shasta: "I had read about it snowing the year around but I didn't think I would ever see it." Referring to the three-year enlistment period he had signed up for, Bobo went on to write, "I might get plenty sick of the Army in 3 years but I don't think I will. Anyway I think the trip is worth 3 years."
"I am 8 miles north of Portland Oregon, north of the Columbia river and am about 6 blocks from the main street of the town of Vancouver. It is a town of about 10,000 population I think I will like this country just fine it seems healthy and I can really sleep cool at night. I sleep under 2 blankets ha."
In December 1938, Bobo wrote a letter to Mary Allene Doyle describing his thoughts on the Vancouver area:
Soldiers and officers stationed at Vancouver Barracks were often far from their homes, families, and friends. In his 1938 letter to Mary Doyle, Ormond Bobo asks her about her life, and reassures her that he is still single:
"Yes I have been in Washington quite awhile. I like here o.k. but not as well as California. Lots of beautiful scenery here I think... Vancouver is about size of Corsicana [Texas], and Portland Oregon is only nine miles from here. It's about the size of Dallas I guess."
Bobo had met Mary in north Texas around 1936, while he was visiting a cousin in the area, and the two began a correspondence. They were married on November 11, 1943.
"Well Mary what are you doing these days? Still keeping store? Have you had any more Halloween partys? I think of the one that we went to...pretty often. I was plenty bashful then wasn't I? Ha. No Mary I am not married. Been waiting on someone to ask me but looks as if I will have to use some other method. Ha."
After his reenlistment, Bobo was stationed at Schofield Barracks in Hawai'i, and was present for the December 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor. After the subsequent entry of the United States into World War II, Bobo served two tours of duty in the Pacific Theater of the war as a dining hall mess sergeant. He also served stateside at military bases in Texas, Kansas, and Georgia. In 1945, Bobo was stationed on the island of Tinian when the Enola Gay arrived on its way to Japan.
After the war, Bobo transitioned into a carreer with the U.S. Air Force, and retired in Austin, Texas, in 1959 as a chief warrant officer. In his retirement, Bobo managed the base exchange at Bergstrom Air Force Base for nearly 15 years. Ormond Bobo died in 1979 at the age of 66.